Here's another set of pre-snow photos that Alayne took recently, these of wobbly Soba playing with a kong. Soba was born with cerebellar hypoplasia, which makes her wobble and "dance" when she walks. With this condition, the more an animal like Soba tries to concentrate on a fine motor skill-type task, i.e., trying to pick up an object with her mouth, the more her head will tremor. As the article I just linked to on cerebellar hypoplasia says, these are known as "intention tremors."
It's hard to tell from that photo above, but her left paw is actually hovering over the kong. (Click on photo for bigger image.) She was batting at it, trying to bring it closer to her. It worked:
Here she's looking inside, hoping we might have stuffed a treat inside (no such luck):
Then she's back to pawing at it and rolling it around:
Ultimately she decided it's time to give it a good chewing ... but now she has to really focus on it, and this is when we're most likely to see the intention tremors set in. Appearing at first almost like she's having a petit mal seizure, the tremors make it harder to grasp the object, but she will persist:
Until she gets it:
And that makes for a happy girl:
Another odd thing we've noticed in Soba but not all the cerebellar hypoplasia animals we've had over the years is this: When we pick her up to carry her into the house, her body often goes rigid and her eyes dart back and forth in rapid nystagmus -- but otherwise she's just fine. When we set her down inside, she takes a few seconds to come out of it ... whatever "it" is ... and is then perfectly normal again. Usually animals with this condition become limp and relaxed when you pick them up. Not sure why Soba is different in that regard.
(I thought I had mentioned this in an addendum to a blog post months ago but maybe not ... we lost Soba's sister Noodle last year. She became increasingly compromised and finally lost her quality of life. She just looked defeated, and we decided to let her go. Soba, fortunately, has continued on much like before.)
One more thing that's odd about Soba: She can move much faster backwards than forwards -- and we've never figured out why!
Final Week -- Contest Ends Sunday, December 19th
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